I’m a long time basketball fan, although I usually like the NCAA better than the NBA. But somewhere close is an image of LeBron James after the game 6 loss. The Miami Heat were put together with one idea in mind – glory. They were built to win. Yet they lost. LeBron’s face says it all. This was not supposed to happen.
It interests me that a guy often called ‘the chosen one’ who goes around as the new ‘King James’ doesn’t really get the karma he’s tempting. The chosen one may win in the end – the messiah sits enthroned – but it is after the cross. The story of the authorized King James is that God is most fully revealed in suffering. The hour of his glorification is when he is lifted up…on the cross.
We naturally equate losing with the loss of God’s favor. God smiles on us when we are winning. And that is almost exactly the opposite of the truth. Any athlete knows he’s on the right path when the coach is yelling at him the most fierce. There is that moment in Hoosiers when Gene Hackman is trying to explain why he punched that kid all those years ago. “He was the best I ever coached…” Paul tells us to “rejoice in our sufferings (Rom 5:3)” or “that he might share in his sufferings (Phil 3:10)”. But that is not how we act.
What do I brag about or publish? And upward trending attendance line. A successful Sunday School. A balanced church budget or at least close. Why? Because those things mean God is working, right?
Maybe. But the suffering might be closer to the glory. It might be more real. It might be the better preparation. Because suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope; and hope does not disappoint.
Did you ever have a time in your life where you had all the glory but felt nothing? or were completely defeated, but yet new that this was real?